The gap between the online retail experience and in-store shopping reality is closing every day, with technological innovation coming to our shopping centres and high streets faster than the latest catwalk trends.
The advancement of mobile technology has meant that from the moment your customers walk through your door, you have the capability to amplify their shopping experience like never before.
NSC is currently engaged in an exciting programme, working in conjunction with one of the world’s largest telecommunication companies, for a high-end fashion manufacturer and retailer, helping them roll out a modernisation programme of their 4,500+ US stores as well as their global network of offices.
With the concept of future retail continuously evolving, here are a few trends that we predict will soon be everyday occurrences on our High Streets in the near future.
1. In-store touch points
Banks of tablets are already common-place in many UK stores. Replacing the tired catalogue format, they offer customers the chance to see not just the products available to them but also price, branch stock levels and product specifications. In future, we expect to see the capability of these tablets to increase, allowing customers to envision how products will look in situ, options for personalisation as well as ranges that will compliment and give you the look you want.
2. Easier social sharing
As part of our in-store modernisation program, we made special allowance for the development of greater in-store social sharing capabilities. Sharing images quickly to your social audience will increase engagement and sales through recommendations and real time feedback. Pretty soon, the question “Which sunglasses do you like more?” won’t be limited to the reluctant boyfriend holding the shopping bags, but to a far wider audience.
3. Virtual reality
Virtual reality headset technology has now passed the point of oddity and we are seeing more and more retailers use VR to offer customers a more immersive shopping experience. Last year IKEA demoed their Virtual Reality Kitchen Experience and more and more companies are seeing VR as the perfect platform to sell grander, more experience-led sales through their traditional high street outlets.
4. Location based advertising
When the film Minority Report was released in 2002, it’s ultra targeted in-store advertising was described as hyper-futuristic. Well 15 years later, that hyper-futurism is nearly a reality. The use of bluetooth technology in the late 00’s heralded the beginning on location based communications and we are now nearing a point where customers visiting a store will be alerted of the location of items they may have browsed on their phones, what they may have bought on their last visit and what offers are currently available in store. High street shopping is about to get interactive.
5. Linking your physical visit to our online store
2131, 7th Ave, Seattle. The location of the world first check-out free grocery store. It may be a prototype, but Amazon’s investments in “bricks and mortar” retail space mean that very soon the link between our online and our in-store shopping habits will become even more associated. Click-and-collect facilities are already hugely popular but we are now entering a time when the products we browse online will very soon be reflected in what we see on the shelves of our favourite stores.
The biggest brands in the world are constantly future-proofing their retail outlets
Whether that’s installing and programming 150 tablets in store, fitting routers, switches and wi-fi points across 5 different floors at their flagship store or looking ahead to a time when they need to source the infrastructure that goes into developing a smart mirror that allows customers to photograph the outfit they are thinking of buying and sharing that photograph to their Snapchat audience.
NSC are an IT solutions company. We help solve problems that companies don’t even know they have. We have the resources, expertise and supplier network that get things working, when you want them to work and keep them working so you don’t have to worry about them. And we’re looking forward to seeing what we are asked to do next.